Israeli PM’s wife Sara Netanyahu charged with fraud in ‘Residence Affair’

Glen Norman
June 21, 2018

Sara Netanyahu, the wife of Israel's prime minister, has been charged with fraud and breach of trust for allegedly using public funds to pay for restaurant meals to be delivered to the couple's official residence.

Ezra Saidoff, deputy director of operations and assets at the Prime Minister's Office, was also charged with fraud and breach of trust for his part in ordering meals and recruiting waitstaff.

The exorbitant spending on lavish meals took place despite the fact that the Netanyahus had a full-time chef at their disposal. Her lawyers have denied such reports.

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Sara and Benjamin Netanyahu visit the British Museum in 2015.

The move represents the latest legal headache for Netanyahu and his family, as the authorities investigate the combative leader over allegations of corruption in a string of eye-catching cases.

"Not only is the indictment based on false claims and false data, it is based entirely on forbidden and illegal procedure applied particularly to Prime Minister Netanyahu and only to him".

Cohen called the limitations on expenditures for the prime minister's residence unconstitutional as they were passed by regulation and not by a Knesset law.

Netanyahu and his family members are also suspected of receiving 1 million shekels ($285,000, €240,000) worth of luxury cigars, champagne and jewelry from wealthy personalities in exchange for financial or personal favors.

Suspicions included the misuse of around $100,000 in official funds for catering services at the prime minister's residence in Jerusalem, the ministry said in a statement.

The Jerusalem District Attorney's Office said the decision to indict both Mrs Netanyahu and Mr Seidoff was made "after reviewing all evidence and weighing all circumstances of the case".

Israeli police questioned Netanyahu, his wife and son last week in connection to a corruption case involving the country's telecom giant, Bezeq.

Netanyahu has protested his innocence and vowed to remain in power, saying he is the victim of a "witch-hunt".

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